Selection of representatives at the EU level: Members of the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice

PluriCourts lunch with postdoctoral fellow Silje Hermansen.

Rather than asking why member states delegate to supranational institutions, Hermansen asks how decision-makers navigate the system once a delegation has been done. In doing so, she relaxes the assumption of unitary actors to consider choices made by political parties (in member states), on the one hand, and the leadership within the supranational organization, on the other hand. 

Hermansen assumes that parties are policy seekers who use their power of appointment to place policy makers in salient positions at the supranational level. They maximize two selection criteria: They appoint representatives who are

  1. willing to change policies in the desired direction (i.e.: they have similar preferences), and 
  2. that are able to change policies (i.e. they possess the right competencies to access positions of influence).

At the supranational  level, the leadership delegate responsibilities among appointed members following largely the same selection criteria:

  1. They  seek to delegate to members who share their preferences.
  2. They prefer delegating to members who possess the required competencies.

These choices are interconnected: First, parties are reliant on delegations done by the supranational leadership in order to appoint members who will eventually access positions of influence. Thus, the leadership's selection criteria will have a bearing on choices made by parties. Second, the supranational leadership is reliant on member states to appoint members with the desired qualities. While supranational leaders may favor some members to others, they also have an obligation to use the set of members it is provided with.

During her PhD, Hermansen studied this dynamic for the selection of members of the European Parliament. They are the agents of two principals: On the one hand,  they rely on national parties to support their election to Parliament. In the European Parliament, transnational group leaders act as gate-keepers of positions of influence. During her postdoc, she will study parties in governments' appointment of judges to the ECJ as well as the internal distribution of influence within the Court. The ultimate question is how these choices connect.


PluriCourt Seminars are a forum for pluridisciplinary discussion of core issues relating to international courts and tribunals. PluriCourts scholars or invited speakers present new and ongoing research or comment on current questions. The seminars are open to everyone.

Tags: Function, Effects
Published Sep. 19, 2017 1:42 PM - Last modified July 29, 2018 9:34 PM